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The Air Force One delay is the latest return for Boeing

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Air Force One is a recognized symbol of American power, but the prestige that the presidential plane generates for its manufacturer Boeing decreases amid a legal spate in Texas and the prospect of delays and higher costs for U.S. taxpayers.

Boeing has told the U.S. Air Force it expects a one-year delay to deliver the pair of refurbished 747-8 aircraft. Each tri-level jet will be upgraded with a presidential office, a medical suite that can serve as an operating room and two galleys to feed up to 100 passengers.

Boeing also called on the air force more money. The contract to rebuild the plane stands at $ 3.9 billion, up from $ 5 billion after former President Donald Trump attacked the top figure as “ridiculous.”

Meanwhile, Boeing and the failed supplier GDC Technics are suing in a San Antonio, Texas court over who is to blame for the delay.

The program represents a portion of Boeing’s flagship line, which totaled $ 58 billion by 2020. Yet it worries some analysts because it is another black eye in a chain of problems ranging from minor to catastrophic: debris left behind. the USAF’s KC-46 refueling tankers. , the Starliner crew capsule that failed to reach the International Space Station, the delivery of 787 stops and the two crashes of the 737 Max which killed 346 people.

Air Force One’s problems contribute “to a general impression of Boeing having serious deficiencies in program management and execution, both in its commercial and military activities,” said Teal analyst Richard Aboulafia.

“It’s one above the other, above the other,” added Bank of America analyst Ron Epstein. “That’s the problem, not Air Force One per se. It’s also another fumble… It really makes you question what’s going on in their engineering organization.”

A Boeing spokeswoman said the company brought together 50,000 engineers in a single function at the company to unify responsibility for safety, and appointed a chief aerospace safety officer in January. He added that the KC-46 has carried more than 4,000 flights for the Air Force so far, Nasa and Boeing have successfully tested Starliner software for a second attempt to reach the ISS and Max is pulling orders.

While prestigious projects rarely add up to profit, they tarnish a company’s reputation. The so-called Air Force One sign can be applied technically to any aircraft carrying the president of the United States, but since the 1960s it has referred to a specially equipped jet, stamped with the presidential seal and the American flag.

The two Boeing 747-200B jets carrying President Joe Biden having 4,000 square feet of space, they can supply air and have hardened the board’s electronics to protect against disturbance from electromagnetic impulses. The communications equipment is built so that the aircraft can function as a mobile command center if the United States is attacked.

The first of the current Air Force One jets entered service in 1990. The replacement aircraft were 747-8s which the defense of the now defunct Russian airline Transaero were sitting in an aircraft “boneyard” in the Mojave Desert. They are renovated in San Antonio, Texas.

Boeing has contracted with GDC to design and build new interiors for the jets, as well as to do the maintenance work for the current Air Force One plans. (The programs are called VC-25B and VC-25A, respectively.) On April 7, Boeing sued GDC in a state court, saying the contractor had gone behind the production schedule, not it did not meet design specifications and, despite financial assistance. from Boeing, there was not enough money to pay other suppliers and employees.

“GDC’s precarious condition continues to put Boeing’s commitments to the [US Air Force] customer on both VC-25A and VC-25B at risk, “the lawsuit said.” Boeing was left with no choice but to cancel the VC-25B and VC-25A subcontracts. “

Boeing said “the company’s failures have caused millions of dollars in damage,” and asked GDC to return parts, tools, drawings, raw materials and subcontractor contracts. The list of items that the aerospace manufacturer wants back extends to 11 pages and includes 25 gallons of “Spa White” paint.

GDC joined nine days later. In its lawsuit, the company said that while Boeing said it was terminating the contract because of GDC’s insolvency, the manufacturer “did not inform the U.S. Air Force that the financial problems of GDC have been substantially caused by Boeing’s breaches of its contracts with GDC ”.

The supplier’s financial stress stems from Boeing owing more than $ 20m in payments, the GDC lawsuit said. He said the company was ready to return the materials after Boeing paid, but that the manufacturer had refused.

GDC’s lawsuit also alleges that Boeing mismanaged the Air Force One program. He said GDC notified the Chicago company before Boeing cited in the lawsuit that the “VC-25B program in general has not followed the contractual schedule for more than 18 months, and GDC is currently awaiting a revised schedule from Boeing. you may not be required to adhere to a schedule that you did not have. “

“Because of its problems with engineering, program management and its own financial difficulties, Boeing has fallen short of the project’s schedule for the aircraft,” the lawsuit said. “Boeing has looked to GDC as a capricious.”

GDC filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on April 26 and fired 223 employees.


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